Jumat, 06 Januari 2012

Former Penn State players upset with coaching hire, process

Simmering discord among an influential group of former Penn State football players has bubbled over with confirmation that Bill O'Brien will be named to replace Joe Paterno as head coach.

The source of dissatisfaction for some members of the Penn State Football Letterman's Club is with the hiring process — and specifically aimed at Dave Joyner, interim athletics director and search committee chair, and Ira Lubert, a Penn State graduate and Philadelphia-based investment manager who's also a member of the search committee in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.

Former Nittany Lions star linebacker Brandon Short told USA TODAY on Thursday night that three Letterman's Club members have a meeting scheduled Friday with Joyner in State College, Pa.

"There is a tangible standard at Penn State that this poor (O'Brien) guy knows nothing about,'' Short said. "I feel badly for him (because) he is clueless and will not have the support of the majority of the Lettermen. This is a hornet's nest (for him).''

Another PSU grad offered a different take, disagreeing with Short's comments.

"It just bothers me -- what's his point?'' said ESPN college and NFL analyst Matt Millen, a 1979 graduate. "It doesn't matter what we think. We're not part of the decision-making process. This is why you chose one guy to make the decision, otherwise it's (chaos). It's not our job.''

O'Brien has neither a connection to the school nor head coaching experience. ESPN was first to report the school would hire him. A person with knowledge of the search confirmed the decision to USA TODAY. He requested anonymity because the schoool has not made a formal announcement.

Former running back D.J. Dozier will join Short along with another ex-Penn State player Short did not identify.

Short said members of the Letterman's Club attempted to discuss the hiring process with Joyner but were rebuffed by an "arrogant, nonchalant and egotistical attitude by anyone who approached him.''

"It shows he wasn't concerned about getting our point of view,'' Short said. "Dave Joyner is not qualified to be athletic director.''

Joyner, a medical school graduate, worked in the private sector for years before being chosen to replace Tim Curley, who was placed on administrative leave for allegedly lying to a grand jury regarding the Sandusky pedophile case.

The Letterman's Club, formed in 1980, is designed to "perpetuate the Penn State Football tradition and promote brotherhood and unity between the university and former players, coaches and managers for their mutual benefit,'' according to the club.

Members of the Letterman's Club often help Penn State's recruiting staff attract top-notch prep players to the school, selling it on tradition, historically strong graduate rates under Paterno and a loyal family atmosphere.

"By not hiring (defensive coordinator Tom) Bradley or a Penn Stater what they have effectively done is turn their backs on 100 years of tradition,'' Short said. "Penn State never has been about winning football games. They didn't recruit the best players — they recruited the best people. If you go to Penn State, you have a better chance of graduating.''

Short is upset that Bradley, name interim coach after Paterno was fired in November, was not given serious consideration for the job. Bradley was interviewed by Joyner, as were some other Penn State assistant coaches. Like Bradley, Joyner also played for Paterno. Short said many members are upset that they were not consulted during the hiring process and are considering a lawsuit that would prevent the Big Ten school from using their likeness or image in any marketing campaign.

"We are strongly considering a move of that nature,'' Short said. "We are not going to threaten anyone — we're going to give Dave Joyner choices.''

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